Hemp is an ancient crop, textile, and medicinal plant that's finally making a come-back. Interest in this cannabis plant is soaring and rightfully so. Practically the whole plant can be used in some way, and it's a highly renewable resource.
Hemp oil has especially attracted attention in the beauty and skincare industries because of its many benefits for skin health. Since hemp products are still relatively new, you may be wondering what the difference is between them. Are hemp oil and CBD oil the same? Is hemp the same thing as marijuana?
Here's more about what hemp is, the amazing benefits of hemp oil for your skin, and how to use it.
What Is Hemp?
One of the first questions people usually have about hemp is whether it's the same thing as marijuana.
The short answer is no: The two are closely related but are different plants. Technically speaking, hemp and marijuana plants are two varieties of Cannabis sativa L. They differ both genetically and in their chemical makeup.
Marijuana plants contain high levels (average 17%) of a compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the psychoactive chemical that gives people a "high" and may also have medicinal properties.
Hemp, on the other hand, has a very low amount of THC (0.3% or lower) and has no psychoactive effects. It still has many other benefits and has been used historically to make paper, textiles, and many other products. Hemp is one of the oldest natural materials used by humans in manufacturing.
In fact, there is a piece of hemp fabric still in existence that dates back to about 8000 B.C. (1)
Is Hemp Oil Legal?
Despite being a renewable resource that has thousands of uses, hemp has largely been forgotten (especially in the U.S.) until recently. This is because the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act and the 1970 Controlled Substances Act effectively made all forms of cannabis illegal to grow and sell.
Today, hemp oil and other hemp products are completely legal to be sold and used in the U.S. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was passed in December 2018.
Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil
Because they are extracted from the same plant, hemp oil and CBD oil are easy to confuse.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a powerful cannabis compound that has many health benefits. The flowers, leaves, seeds, and stalks of hemp all contain CBD. The oil is typically made by extracting and isolating the CBD compound and combining it with base ingredients.
Hemp oil is more accurately known as hemp seed oil because it's cold pressed from the seeds of the hemp plant. It only contains trace amounts of CBD and does not have the same properties as CBD oil.
However, there are still many benefits of hemp seed oil, especially for skin. It's also less expensive than CBD and can be bought in bulk for natural skincare. Unrefined hemp oil will be a clear, green color with a slightly nutty smell.
Benefits of Hemp Oil for Skin
Many oils are moisturizing for skin, but hemp seed oil may be especially beneficial.
Some oils will sit on top of the skin, which does provide a barrier against moisture loss but doesn't necessarily moisturize dry skin. Hemp oil can penetrate into skin cells and provide a real hydrating effect.
It's also a humectant, which means that it will draw moisture from the air into your skin. (2)
Hemp seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals, and a good amount of chlorophyll (which is where the green color comes from) that can seriously nourish your skin. (3) All types of skin will benefits from hemp oil's nutrient content.
Good for Acne-Prone Skin
Popular skincare oils like coconut are often not the best choice if you deal with acne. Despite being promoted as acne-fighting, many oils can clog pores and exacerbate breakouts.
Hemp oil is different because it moisturizes skin without clogging pores. It can actually help to balance oily skin by regulating oil production. Hemp is considered a "dry" oil, which means that it won't leave your skin feeling greasy.
Hemp oil is rich in something called linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fat that your skin naturally produces. (3) Without enough linoleic acid, sebum starts getting hard and clogging pores- something hemp can help prevent.
The anti-aging benefits of hemp oil come from its fatty acids and antioxidants which are powerhouses for healthy skin.
Hemp seed oil contains vitamins A, E, and C, which all have antioxidant action. They help to prevent premature aging and can help to reduce signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.
Hemp seeds are also packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that further protect skin and have anti-aging properties. (3)
Helps Inflammation and Skin Issues
Certain compounds in hemp oil can calm inflammation, making it beneficial for many inflammatory skin issues. Much of this is probably due to the presence of gamma linolenic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. (4)
You can use hemp oil on its own or mix it with essential oils like lavender to soothe and calm skin. To be sure you don't react, do a patch test first on a small area of skin.
Nourishes from the Inside Out
The benefits of hemp oil are not just for skin. It can also be taken internally as a supplement and used in cooking. Consuming hemp oil can help to nourish your body and promote healthy skin.
Along with many vitamins and nutrients, hemp seed oil contains a ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids of between 2:1 and 3:1. This ratio is considered the optimal one for human health and better than both fish oil and flaxseed oil. (3)
You can take hemp seed oil in "doses" like a supplement or add it to foods and smoothies. Just don't heat it to even moderate cooking temperatures or it will lose its nutritional value. Also, store the oil in your fridge to keep it from going rancid.
There are few, if any, precautions when it comes to hemp seed oil. Some people may experience an allergic reaction or mild skin irritation when applying it topically. If this happens, wash skin and discontinue use.
Taking a large amount of hemp oil internally can cause digestive upset or diarrhea. Start with small amounts and work your way up.
Treat Your Skin
Now that you know the incredible benefits of hemp oil for skin, why not try adding it to your routine? It makes a great ingredient for natural skincare with the added bonus of benefiting overall health when taken internally.
Try treating your skin with the powerful benefits of the small but mighty hemp seed!